Office of Dean of the Faculty, Palamountain Hall 416
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2006 Research Projects
Skidmore students and their professors have worked together on numerous research projects. This kind of high-level scholarship does more than enhance a student's understanding in a given disipline; the practical, hands-on experience and "real-world" accomplishment also instill a sense of confidence that will benefit a graduate in any career. Such research often leads to co-authored articles in professional journals and presentations at conferences.
TOTAL: 48 projects.
|Economics||1||Management and Business
Project: Linking Plant and Ant Distributions to Present and Historical Land Use in Skidmore's North Woods
Participants: Joshua Ness, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology; Doug Morin '07
Plan: Approximately 30% of herbaceous plants rely on ants to disperse their seeds. We compared the distributions of these plants and ants with respect to 1880 land use in Skidmore's North Woods. We divided the woods into 35 25,000m2 plots and censused each for plants and ants. Both plants and ants occurred less frequently in plots that were cleared in 1880, relative to historically wooded plots. Behavioral observations demonstrated that some ants may be better seed collectors than others. These better partners are disproportionately common within 1m of ant-dispersed plants and more common in cells that were forested in the 1880s. We conclude that nineteenth century land use continues to influence the plant and animal communities present today.
Project: Biochemical Characterization and Role of Superoxide Dismutase in Vibrio fischeri, the Light Organ Symbiont of Sepiolid Squid
Participants: Pat Fidopiastis, Assistant Professor of Biology, Adam Klein ’05
Plan: The goal of this project is to understand how cells of V. fischeri overcome oxidative stress in the squid light organ. A gene was identified within the genome of V. fischeri whose sequence is similar to "superdioxide dismutase" (SOD) in other bacteria. SOD assists in the detoxification of superoxide to water. Identification of the SOD gene enabled cloning of the gene. The current process is mutating the gene to create a strain of V. fischeri that is incapable of SOD expression. It is hypothesized that this mutant will be unable to detoxify superoxide in the light organ and therefore will not colonize the squid. These data might explain why only cells of V. fischeri, among all other bacteria in seawater, are able to colonize the squid.
Project: The role of Capsule Production in the Symbiotic Colonization of Squid by Vibrio fischeri
Participants: Visiting Assistant Professor Pat M. Fidopiastis and Choai H. Wong '04
Plan: The associate between the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the squid Euprymna scolopes is a model for understanding how beneficial bacteria interact with their host. In this associate, V. fischeri colonizes the squid and is provided nutrients in exchange for light, which the squid uses for its nocturnal activities. The associate is highly specific, and only cells of V. fischeri are able to colonize the squid. As a defense against colonization, the squid possesses macrophage-like cells, similar to those seen in the mammalian immune system, that appear to destroy invading bacteria. However, V. fischeri cells are still able to colonize. Recently, we discovered that V. fischeri produces a capsule that may allow it to avoid destruction by the squid macrophages and colonize the squid.
Project: Spectral Properties of Circadian Clock Responses to Light Stimuli
Participants: Professor Bernard Possidente and Bond Caldaro '04
Plan: Daily rhythms in biological functions (e.g. sleep-wake cycle) are generated and regulated by an internal biological clock. Mammals, including humans, have evolved a central "circadian" (daily) clock in the hypothalamus of the brain just above the point where the optic nerves from both eyes meet. Circadian rhythms generated in the brain need only be synchronized by the external photoperiod. This is accomplished through retinal photoreceptors and central projections that are anatomically and functionally distinct from the visual system.
Project: Establishment of a Protoplast Cycle in the Unicellular Green Alga, Closterium acerosum
Participants: Professor David Domozych and Rachel A. Roberts '04
Plan: This project will define the protocols for obtaining protoplasts from the unicellular green alga Closterium acerosum. This organism is an important tool in plant cell research because of its large size and distinctive endomembrane and cytoskeletal systems. Likewise, it lends itself well to experimental manipulation and preparations for advanced light and electron microscopy. In this project, we will determine the precise conditions for inducing and subsequently culturing protoplasts. This will include defining enzymatic conditions, osmoticum levels and physical techniques that will optimize protoplast production. Similarly, we will attempt to complete the protoplast cycle by inducing morphogenesis back to the walled state. During this study, we will also monitor the effects of protoplast induction on secretion, the endomembrane system and cytoskeletal system. This study will entail use of cryofixation techniques, transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence light microscopy. This project will lay the groundwork for future studies in microinjection of specific tracing agents and molecular probes in understanding basic plant cell development.
Project: Female Mating Fidelity and the Avoidance of Inbreeding in a Dimorphic Warbler, the Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Participants: Assistant Professor Corey R. Freeman-Gallant and Elizabeth M. Johnson '02
Plan: The Common Yellowthroat (Geothylpis trichas), a socially monogamous species abundant across much of North America, will be studied to assess the degree of female mating fidelity using molecular DNA techniques and to determine whether females copulate at random with respect to their similarity to potential sires. The importance of male plumage and health to female mating patterns will also be assessed.
Project: Rat Model for Androgenic Anabolic Steroid Abuse
Participants: Professor Bernie Possidente, Susan Kur '02 and Felicia Gomez '02
Plan: The focus of this project will be to study the effects of high, prolonged doses of steroid hormones, especially regarding potential effects on behavior and brain function. A rat animal model will be used to investigate effects of high doses of several commonly abused steroids on the level and circadian (daily) timing of wheel-running activity, as circadian rhythms, particularly sleep, are typically disrupted in psychiatric disorders similar to those associated with steroid abuse.
Project: Modification and Processing of Vitellogenin in Zebrafish Eggs
Participants: Professor Elaine Rubenstein and R. Carlin Walsh '01
Plan: Yolk proteins are synthesized outside of the ovary, transported through the blood, and then taken up by developing eggs within the ovary. These yolk proteins provide critical nutrients and building blocks to nourish and support embryonic development. In the zebrafish Danio rerio, our preliminary studies suggest that the principal yolk protein, vitellogenin, is biochemically modified and processed after the egg takes it up, but before the egg is fertilized. We intend to characterize the step-by-step changes in size and polypeptide composition that occur in the egg before ovulation which prepare vitellogenin to serve its embryonic functions.
Project: Localization and Function of the Cytomotile Proteins, Profilin and Myosin, in Cytoplasmic Streaming in Plants
Participants: Professor David Domozych and Brian Stevens, '00
Plan: The cascade of events created in cytomotility in plant cells requires numerous proteins. These proteins act precisely in regulating particular events associated in moving cytoplasmic elements across cytomotile cables in the cell, i.e., cytoplasmic streaming. Streaming is a necessary event in mixing nutrients in plant cells and, more importantly, directing particular compartments to specific destinations in the cell. In this project, we will attempt to locate and analyze the role of two cytomotile proteins, myosin and profilin, in the cytoplasmic streaming process in the green plant Closterium. These two proteins have been well characterized in animals, but little if anything is known about them in plants. In this project, we will mass-culture protoplasts of Closterium to create a better biochemical system for protein isolation. Second, we will isolate particular secretory elements such as Golgi elements and secretory vesicles using density gradient centrifugation. These are the elements that are moving in the cytoplasmic streaming network in Closterium. Next, we will extract myosin and profilin from the protoplasts and ultimately determine their location using immunoflourescence (light microscopy) and immunogold (electron microscopy) protocols. This project should provide significant fundamental information about how secretory elements move through the cell to reach sites on the cell membrane.
Project: A Search for Zymomonas mobilis in Apple Orchards in Saratoga County
Participants: Professor Chris Eddy and Keri L. Berka '00
Plan: Zymomonas mobilis is a Gram negative bacterium capable of producing ethanol from glucose more efficiently than yeast. Research on Z. mobilis has focused on finding or developing new strains that are better suited for industrial fermentation processes. The goal of this project is to determine if Z. mobilis can be isolated from apple orchards in Saratoga County, New York. Z. mobilis has been isolated from spoiled cider in Europe, and fermenting palm sap in tropical countries. We are developing methods to select for preferential growth of Z. mobilis and prevent growth of other bacteria and fungi that are present in cider, apples, and composted waste from nearby apple orchards. We will test our methods by adding known numbers of cells to each potential source and determining the minimum number of cells required to be isolated. Any new Z. mobilis strains isolated from samples not inoculated with the laboratory strain will be characterized and compared to strains used for ethanol production.
Project: Ecology, Management and Restoration of Native Plant Communities on Glacial Lake Albany Sand Deposit Outwash: Maintaining and Enhancing the Habitat of the Federally Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly, Lycaeides melissa samuelis
Participants: Associate Professor Monica Raveret Richter and Ava Tanny, '01
Plan: The Karner blue butterfly inhabits disturbed openings containing wild blue lupine, the sole host plant for its larvae (Dirig 1994), and nectar plants. Lupine is an early successional component of glacial Lake Albany sand outwash communities. Development, habitat fragmentation and fire suppression have led to the decline of lupine, butterflies, and other components of this community. Essential to halting this decline is characterization and maintenance of healthy patches of suitable butterfly habitat. We will investigate and characterize the relationship between the status of Karner blue food and nectar plant populations and aspects of the surrounding biotic and abiotic community. This information, combined with landscape analysis of aerial photos, can be used to promote successful maintenance and regeneration of Karner blue butterfly habitat in the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park.
Project: Genetic Population Structure in Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) at Small Geographic Scales
Participants: Assistant Professor Corey R. Freeman-Gallant, David Vogel '99, and Kate Thomas '99
Plan: It is the goal of the collaborative project to allow Skidmore students to bridge the gap between subdisciplines and consider how molecular DNA techniques can be used to investigate long-standing issues in evolutionary biology. The team will propose to assay variation at neutral genetic loci to quantify the proportion of individuals exchanged between pairs of Savannah sparrow populations. Recent advances in molecular DNA technology combined with population genetic theory will enable the participants to link genetic differentiation to the magnitude and pattern of dispersal among sparrow populations.
Project: Is there a Circadian Rhythm for Fertility in Fruit Flies?
Participants: Professor Bernard Possidente and Mackenzie Evangelist '98
Plan: Circadian (daily) rhythms are generated by an internal biological clock mechanism. Fruit flies have been the leading model organism for investigating the genetic and molecular basis of biological clock function. The researchers are extending the fruit fly model to investigate the circadian regulation of complex behavior by characterizing a daily rhythm for mating and courtship behavior. Prior research has already established circadian clock regulation of mating behavior with a peak mating time that corresponds to six hours after sunrise. The proposed research is designed to determine whether the number of offspring produced depends on the time of day that mating occurs.
Project: Water Quality Monitoring in the Kayaderosseras Creek and Saratoga Lake: Past, Present and Future
Participants: Judy Halstead, Professor, Department of Chemistry; Kristina Connolly '07
Plan: The project has three related goals: collecting, reading and analyzing past sources of water quality data and monitoring in Saratoga Lake's watershed and surrounding regions, conducting a field and laboratory assessment of current water quality parameters in the tributaries of Saratoga Lake, and recommendations for future water quality monitoring projects. Past sources were organized into bibliographies to be shared with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and state and local agencies. A tributary survey, event sampling and a main branch sampling were conducted in the watershed testing for conductivity, dissolved oxygen and pH in the field and collecting samples for the testing of nutrients, common anions, suspended solids, and metals in the laboratory. The project serves as a stepping stone to future water quality monitoring projects and a basis to recommendations for future studies.
Project: Investigation of Spiropyran-Doped Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for Use in Metal Ion Sensing Applications
Participants: Shannon E. Stitzel, Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Andrew Williams '07
Plan: There are numerous sensors to measure physical properties such as temperature, but there are few sensors available to monitor chemical changes in our environment. This project's long-term goal is to develop sensors using light-activated molecules imbedded in a chemically stable, polymer matrix. Ideally, photochemical control of the surface chemistry will protect the sensor and extend its useful lifetime.
The aim of this summer's project was to characterize the solution chemistry of spiropyran, a light-activated dye that changes color depending on the presence or absence of metal ions. Initial experiments imprinting the dye in polymer matrices were also conducted. Research on this topic will continue in the fall, but this summer's work has provided insight on how the metal, dye, and polymer interact with each other.
Project: Development of a Luciferase Enzyme Assay to Quantitate Cell Lysis During the Purification of a Surface-Associated Metalloprotease from V. Fischeri
Participants: Michelle West Frey, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry; Andrew Lynch '07
Plan: The bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, participate in an exclusive symbiotic relationship that provides a unique model system for the study of pathogenic relatives of V. fischeri such as V. cholerae (the causative agent of human cholera). A surface associated protease enzyme is hypothesized to play an important role in the establishment of this relationship. The goal of this project was to develop a sensitive method for the quantification of cell lysis that occurs during the purification of this enzyme. The method chosen was detection of luciferase, an enzyme found only in the interior of V. fischeri. The methods and procedures were determined using sample luciferase and then used to quantify luciferase concentration due to cell lysis.
Project: Cloning and Expression of a Novel Surface Associated PepN Enzyme from Vibrio Fischeri
Participants: Michelle West Frey, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry; Kate Fegan '07
Plan: The bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, participate in a symbiotic relationship that provides a model system for the study of pathogenic relationships between bacteria and host, specifically V. cholera, a relative of V. fischeri. Research has found a surface-associated protease enzyme which is hypothesized to play an important role in the establishment of this symbiotic relationship. Understanding the role of this enzyme may provide insight into other pathogenic bacteria relationships. We have successfully cloned the gene encoding the enzyme of interest, PepN, and we are now able to establish a protocol for the preparation of large quantities of protein for further research. Studies are under way to optimize the expression and purification of this enzyme.
Project: Immobilization of Active Spinach PSI on Clay Films
Participants: Steven T. Frey, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Physics; Evan Shalen '08
Plan: The goal of our project is to create a novel material in which Photosystem I (PSI), one of the components of the photosynthetic machinery of spinach leaves, is immobilized and thereby stabilized on the surface of a synthetic clay. Over the course of the summer we successfully synthesized and carried out partial characterization of a layered double hydroxide (LDH) clay, and made significant progress on a procedure to isolate and purify PSI from spinach leaves. We intend to perfect the PSI isolation procedure and to introduce purified PSI to the LDH clay during the fall 2005 and spring 2007 semesters. Our ultimate goal is to create a device that uses our PSI-LDH material to produce electrical energy in response to the absorption of light.
Project: An Empirical Evaluation of Inequality in Pollution Abatement in U.S. Manufacturing Sector: Interstate Study
Participants: Monica Das, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics; Sarah Fansler '07
Plan: The EKC is a theoretical relationship between pollution and economic growth whose existence is debated in the current literature. To determine whether this relationship is seen in the United States, we used the Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures data set as well as state income data which were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. We found by using least squares estimation that there was a significant relationship between pollution and income. While all forms of pollution abatement were found to increase at higher income levels, water pollution abatement leveled off as the state income level reached its highest levels, and solid pollution abatement was found to peak at moderately high levels of income and then decrease at the highest levels of income.
Project: Eschúchennos: Why We Came to America
Participants: Lenora de la Luna, Assistant Professor, Department of Education; Julia Raufman '06
Plan: In our study, we collected and analyzed life history narratives of Latino students enrolled in the Amsterdam English Language Learners Program (AELLP). Providing the phenomenological experiences of Latino immigrants working to strengthen their educational, economic, and social positions is beneficial for multiple reasons. First, because understanding literacy requires understanding social groups and institutions within which people are socialized, students' life histories will help strengthen the AELLP and make it more responsive to students' needs. By understanding the interrelated set of historical, economic, social, cultural, and political practices, the AELLP will be better able to connect language and literacy activities to sustainable social practices that lead to higher school success, social status, and political power. Additionally, life history interviews allow us to understand how race, ethnicity, linguistics, and education, as a multiplicity of identifications, produce, reproduce, and transform identities. An obvious benefit of life history narratives is that they can offer important insights into the lives of those being investigated. Yet, they can also generate fruitful insights about the larger context in which the lives are lived. As a result, life histories offer benefits to immigrants, to educators, and to policy makers.
Project: Enhancing Mentoring Practices Between and Among College Faculty, Student Teachers, and Cooperating Teachers
Participants: Visiting Instructor Lenora de la Luna and Jaqueline (Jackie) Callahan
Plan: The proposed project will bring together three veteran teachers, one recently tenured teacher, one soon-to-be student teacher (Callahan) and one Skidmore faculty member (de la Luna). During the summer, we will engage in a series of five full-day workshops designed to better understand the constraints teachers, student teachers, and education faculty face as we work toward developing and implementing successful student-teaching experiences. The foci of the workshops are to understand the ways that Skidmore faculty can better mentor cooperating teachers as they work with Skidmore students. A central aim in the project is to develop reciprocal mentoring practices among faculty, student teachers, and cooperating teachers.
Project: The Role of mTOR in Skeletal Muscle Insulin Resistance
Participants: T.H. Reynolds, Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise Science; Andrew M. Miller '07
Plan: Type 2 diabetes is a devastating public health problem that is associated with insulin resistance and obesity. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a signaling molecule that has been suggested to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The purpose of this study was to determine if treating mice with rapamycin, a highly specific inhibitor or mTOR, would improve insulin action in genetically obese and fat-fed mice. Genetically obese (Ob/Ob) mice and wildtype controls, or fat-fed mice and aged-matched controls were subjected to a glucose tolerance test and an insulin tolerance test with or without rapamycin. Rapamycin appears to improve glucose tolerance only in the wildtype controls and showed no beneficial effect on insulin tolerance in any of the mice studied.
Project: The Evolving Justification for Capital Punishment in America: An Examination of Deterrence and Retribution
Participants: Beau Breslin, Associate Professor, Department of Government; Molly Appel '07
Plan: Since America's Founding in the late eighteenth century, deterrence (the principle that punishment should be used as a utilitarian means to discourage crime) and retribution (the idea that criminal activity requires a proportional penal response) have been used to justify the death penalty. Our project will examine the historical evolution of these principles. It is an important study because so much of the contemporary debate about capital punishment relies on the uncontested fact that executions were quite common in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. What is missing from these arguments, however, is an analysis of the historical context: Perhaps there was a deterrent and retributive purpose to capital punishment during the early period of American history that, due to various advancements in the criminal justice system, is no longer present. This study will remedy that troubling omission.
Project: Elevating Associate Justices: The Recipe for Downplaying Ideology in the Appointment of the Chief Justice?
Participants: Assistant Professor Beau Breslin of Government and Jared Gottlieb '04
Plan: The history and politics surrounding the elevation of associate justices to the position of chief justice will be explored. Half of all chief justices selected in the twentieth century were either sitting associate justices at the time of the promotion or, in the case of Charles Evans Hughes, had served previously on the Supreme Court. It will be argued that these are unique appointments in that they effectively insulate the appointer (the president) from the political blacklash that often accompanies federal judicial selections. It will be contended that elevating an associate justice (who has already been confirmed by the Senate) allows the president to appoint ideologues with far less concern about the political costs that typically accompany appointments of this magnitude.
Project: Free Speech and Internet Violence: A Justification for Broad Constitutional Protection
Participants: Professor Beau Breslin and Jon Eick '02
Plan: The primary focus of this project will be to explore the relationship between First Amendment jurisprudence and the growing tendency to use the Internet as a source for the dissemination of violent information. In the piece, we will ask to what extent should the First Amendment protect speech that is so violent in nature as to warrant exclusion from the protective confines of the First Amendment's free speech doctrine. Our aim is to propose that this variety of speech—a variety that includes blueprints for the construction of pipe bombs and other forms of significant destruction—must be afforded constitutional protection despite its potentially devastating effects. The history of free speech jurisprudence in this country mandates that even our most harmful messages enjoy full and robust constitutional protection.
Project: Reforming the Electoral College: The Partisan and Policy Consequences of the District System
Participants: Assistant Professor Robert C. Turner and Greg Thall '02
Plan: The purpose of this project is to examine the advantages and consequences of reforming how America selects its president via the Electoral College by awarding Electoral College votes on the basis of the district plan. The project will also examine how the district system would have avoided many of the fiascoes of the 2000 presidential election that were created by the winner-take-all system.
Project: Development of An Interactive Web Site for the Water Resources Initiative
Participants: Michael Ennis-McMillan, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; Karen Kellogg, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program; Alison Barnes, Lecturer, Department of English; Adam Wallace '06
Plan: This project consisted of designing an interactive and artistic Web site as an outreach and educational resource for the Water Resources Initiative. WRI is an interdisciplinary, community-based initiative that studies water issues in the local region. The site displays information about the initiative with categories that include: mission statement, faculty coordinators, visualizing a watershed, faculty publications, student projects, student engagement monitoring, resources, and sponsors. Each page incorporates visual elements to create an engaging aesthetic that allows viewers to understand interactions in the Saratoga Lake watershed. This Web site had been designed to make the work of WRI accessible to a range of constituencies such as community members, Skidmore students and faculty, and local organizations.
Project: Water Conflicts and Contradictions: Recreation and Invasive Species in Saratoga Lake
Participants: Michael Ennis-McMillan, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; Molly Bergen '07; Karen Kellogg, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program; Leah Wohl-Pollack '08
Plan: Through a stakeholder analysis of our local water issues, we found that recreation and invasive species are, in part, shaping people's perceptions of Saratoga Lake as a supplemental drinking water source for Saratoga Springs. To further explore recreation and invasive species, we transcribed over 40 interviews with informed county residents and coded them for themes. Based on these data, we concluded that residents' perceptions of Saratoga Lake are influenced by their desire to protect their recreational interests, representing the economic and emotional value they place on Saratoga Lake. We also concluded that personal interaction with invasive species influences residents' perceptions of which species are problematic and which species management plans are desirable. Our study indicates that personal interests often overshadow environmental concern for Saratoga Lake.
Project: Scribner Campus Speaks: The History of Skidmore's First Home
Participants: Robert Jones, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics; Heather Moore '08
Plan: Our presentation will begin with a GIS model of the Scribner Campus' growth from 1911 to 1969. We have found in our research that Scribner Campus was home to over 80 buildings at one time or another. Because of time constraints, Professor Jones and I have limited ourselves to the ten buildings that we feel have the richest and most substantial recorded histories. These buildings include Skidmore Hall, Scribner Hall, Father's Hall, Hathorn Hall, College Hall, the Music Hall, Griffith Hall, the library, South Hall, and the President's House. We have unearthed stories that tell more than just the location, but rather imbue the personality and lifestyle of Skidmore's first home. Our future plans for a walking tour book will also be discussed.
Project: Research and Web Site for the Tang Exhibit A Very Liquid Heaven
Participants: Mary Crone Odekon, Associate Professor of Physics, and Stephanie Waite ’06
Plan: This project will create a detailed informational Web site for the Tang exhibit A Very Liquid Heaven, which opens October 2004. As part of the exhibit, a small cluster of computers will be set up within the Wachenhein gallery. The presence of the computers will contribute esthetically and conceptually to the exhibit's technological theme, and will also allow visitors to explore the ideas and objects in the show more deeply. The site will be accessible remotely, to assist faculty in incorporating the exhibit into classes, and to enhance the visibility of the exhibit off campus. The research that goes into preparing for the site will also contribute greatly to wall text and catalog essays.
Management and Business
Project: Agri-Mark and Dairygold: Cooperative Organizations in an Age of Globalization
Participants: James J. Kennelly, Associate Professor, Department of Management and Business; Sarah Bailey '07, Meredith Peeke '07
Plan: If this is indeed the "age of globalization," then multinational corporations are clearly its dominant institutions. With their economies of scale and scope, access to resources, flexibility, mobility and self-proclaimed statelessness, MNCs are the leading instruments of globalization. Cooperative organizations, on the other hand, are anchored to geographic and cultural spaces, deeply rooted in place and community, almost the opposite of MNCs. This project involved researching two medium-sized dairy cooperatives, the Agri-Mark cooperative in the United States and the Dairygold Cooperative Society in County Cork, Ireland, and producing written case studies for pedagogical purposes. An examination of both organizations provides a detailed view of some of the challenges facing such "rooted" firms in an "age of globalization."
Project: The European Union and the Logic of Integration
Participants: Roy Ginsberg, Professor of Government, Joshua Hutchinson ’06
Plan: This project proposes to collaborate in the design, research, and writing of a new interdisciplinary undergraduate book on the political economy, history, and law of European integration. The book, European Union and the Logic of Integration, parallels a course taught by Roy Ginsberg, Political Economy of European Integration (GO 219/LS2), since 1987.
Project: The Evolution and Future Prospects of Dairy Cooperatives in New York State: Case Studies of the Dairylea and Agri-Mark Cooperatives
Participants: Associate Professor James J. Kennelly and Anatoly Ostrovsky '03
Plan: The development, evolution, and future prospects of dairy cooperatives in New York State will be examined. Specifically, research will focus upon preparing extended case studies of the Dairylea and Agri-Mark cooperatives, the largest and oldest dairy cooperatives in the area. It is hoped that a result of this study will be to develop an understanding of the role that cooperative organizations may continue to play in the preservation of family-owned farms and the survival of rural communities. The question "Do cooperatives still represent economically viable organizational structures?" needs to be answered first.
Project: A Sense of Place: Business Enterprises and Their Rootedness in Community
Participants: Associate Professor James J. Kennelly and Yang Wang '99
Plan: We seek to develop a grounded theory of the factors that contribute to the "rooting" or "anchoring" of firms in local communities, in geographical places. Mainstream business strategy theories suggest that firms, as profit maximizers, should be flexible, mobile, and in a sense "stateless" or "rootless." This project is intended to explore the opposite phenomenon, to discern the factors that argue against such an orientation and cause certain firms to entrench themselves in a local community. In other words, what is the "glue" that binds a firm to a community? In most cases, the connection is Velcro; the researchers wish to examine the cases where there has been a real "bonding."
Project: The Effect of Bupropion on Sexual Motivation in Female Rats
Participants: Hassan López, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology; Gabriel Wurzel '07, Benjamin Ragen '08
Plan: The development of novel pharmacological treatments for low libido is dependent upon valid and reliable animal models. The current study explored the effect of bupropion (Wellbutrin), a dopamine and norepinephrine agonist, on sexual motivation in female Long-Evans rats. Sixty-three sexually experienced, ovariectomized female subjects traversed a straight-arm runway to approach 1) an empty goalbox, 2) a nonestrous female, or 3) a male. A Plexiglas partition within the goalbox prevented copulatory behavior. Both run time (latency to goalbox entry) and proximity time (time spent within the vicinity of the target) were utilized as behavioral indices of motivation. Subjects were divided into six treatment groups and re-tested for their motivation to approach the three goalbox targets under experimental conditions. Half of the subjects were put into estrus via administration of estradiol benzoate and progesterone prior to testing. Subjects were also given one of three doses of bupropion, 45 minutes prior to testing: 0.0 mg/kg, 7.5 mg/kg, or 15 mg/kg. Results indicated that, as predicted, estrous females expressed greater sexual motivation than nonestrous females. The motivational effects of bupropion will be discussed.
Project: Pet interactions for institutionalized participants: Psychological benefits and moderating factors
Participants: Visiting Assistant Professor Cay Anderson-Hanley and Jesse Bank '03
Plan: The goal of this study is to assess a number of psychological variables associated with human-animal interactions in an effort to clarify factors that lead to therapeutic benefit. This study will focus on two institutionalized populations: prisoners and elderly residents. Physiological and psychological measures of the possible benefits of pet contact will be obtained (e.g., reduced blood pressure and improved mood). Elderly participants will visit with a study dog twice a week for 10 weeks. Prisoners will participate in Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a puppy-raising program, in which a dog will live with them. Possible beneficial and differential effects over the course of the 10-week study will be analyzed, and each participant's attachment style will be factored in as a possible moderating variable.
Project: Further Investigations of the Impact of Texture Attributes on Object Perception
Participants: Assistant Professor Flip Phillips and Martin Voshell '02
Plan: Two years ago, with the support of a Keck grant, the complex, perceptual interaction of the geometric (three-dimensional) and surface (two-dimensional) properties of an object were studied. Using the results from these experiments, a better description of the effects of 3-D and 2-D complexity on human observer's perception of objects in the world were formulated. The property of the world that we casually refer to as "texture" is actually neither two- nor three-dimensional, but rather an interaction of a variety of two- and three-dimensional characteristics of an object. The goal for this project is to extend the investigation already begun into some heretofore unstudied areas in an attempt to better understand the nature of the process of texture perception.
Project: The Effects of Repeated, Daily Maternal Separations on Mother-infant Interactions
Participants: Assistant Professor Gregory A. Goodwin and Samantha L. Warnock, '00
Plan: A long line of research has shown that brief, daily separation of young rats from their mothers during the first two weeks of life has long-term effects on the offspring's responses to stressors (Meaney, et al., 1996). Recently, these investigators have shown that these daily separations effect the interactions of the mother with her young and that the changes in her behavior are critical for determining the sensitivity of the offspring to stressors encountered later in life. These investigators have not, however, carefully characterized the exact changes in the mother-infant interaction that result from daily removal of her litter. Our goal is to examine these changes more carefully as well as to examine their effect on offspring responses to a stressor.
Project: The Aversive Effects of Kappa Receptor Activation in Infant Rats
Participants: Assistant Professor Gregory A. Goodwin and Jamie Levison, '00
Plan: Opioids are naturally secreted in certain regions of the brain when an animal or human is performing behaviors pertinent to survival, inhibiting the neural signals of pain and reinforcing the survival instinct. These endogenous opioids also function early in development, playing an important role in the formation of attachment between the infant and its parent. The infant's bond for its mother is reinforced positively and negatively by endogenous opioids. Specifically, nursing induces an endorphin release in both human and rat infants, reinforcing the mother-infant bond. Conversely, the aversiveness of maternal separation may be mediated by a different class of endogenous opioids. Our goal is to examine the role of endogenous opioid receptors in one brain region that mediate this aversiveness.
Project: Perception of Three-dimensional Object Qualia using Two- and Three-dimensional Texture Information
Participants: Assistant Professor Flip Phillips and Colin Thompson, '00
Plan: All objects in the visual world possess the quality of texture to a varying degree. We will investigate the relationship between certain types of visual texture information and the perception of 3-D objects. The phenomena that we colloquially refer to as texture actually can arise from many sources;, for example, the structural features of an object, such as the dimples on a golf ball, or the 'decal' properties of the surface, such as the pattern of dyes on fabric. Currently, the literature outlines a restrictive conception of texture, focusing on patterns of retinal stimulation, ignoring the underlying source of the texture qualia. This series of experiments will examine the interaction between the source of the visual texture information and the perception of textured objects.
Project: Preschoolers' Understanding of Identity
Participants: Assistant Professor Grant Gutheil and Rebecca Freedman '00
Plan: One of the major achievements of early cognitive development is the ability to understand that an object's or person's individual identity can remain stable while various properties of the individual change (e.g., adults know we don't become different people by changing our clothing or hairstyle). Previous research has indicated that preschoolers do not yet grasp this, and think identity is determined by properties such as proper name and appearance. These results contrast both with related achievements in preschool cognition, and with current identity research employing methods more sensitive to preschoolers' abilities. The proposed collaboration is part of an ongoing investigation of 3- to 5-year-olds' understanding of individual identity stability across a variety of controlled conditions and individuals (e.g., people, objects, and animals).
Project: Early Meanings of the Hudson River
Participants: Rik Scarce, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; Megan McAdams '07
Plan: From its discovery by Henry Hudson in 1609, the Hudson River landscape's meanings changed dramatically and repeatedly throughout history. Our project's goal was to develop a theory to describe the earliest of those shifting meanings and to explain the forces that gave rise to them. We focused on two historical periods, the first beginning with the date of Hudson's visit and extending to the Dutch forfeiture of the colony to the British in 1664, the latter running from 1665 through the French and Indian War to just before the American Revolution in 1775. Our data were drawn from a wide range of materials, including the earliest-known archival sources, interviews with scholars, as well as maps and works of art as varied as oil paintings and powder horn carvings. We inductively analyzed those data, initially working with quotations, then identifying commonalities between them to create more abstract categories, then combining categories to develop even more general concepts—the core meanings of the Hudson's landscape in those periods. Ultimately, we identified eight of those central meanings in the earlier period and eleven in the latter, and many of them support our fundamental theoretical observation: That power, in some form, was dependent upon the Hudson River landscape. In that sense, the landscape, not human culture, was the ultimate arbiter of meaning in the Hudson's earliest recorded periods.
Participants: Catherine Berheide, Professor; Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; Katrina Perez '07
Plan: Analyzing 2003 and 2005 surveys of Skidmore College student athletes, this research identifies the factors predicting a positive athletic experience. Athletes' rating of student support has the greatest effect on athletes' rating of the athletic environment. This study indicates that athletes' rating of the overall athletic facilities at this college is the second most powerful determinant of whether they rate the athletic environment highly. While there has been improvement in the athletes' rating of the athletic facilities between 2003 and 2005, there has been little change in their rating of student support. By identifying the most important factors affecting athletes' perceptions regarding the quality of their athletic experience, this research should help Skidmore College as it seeks to improve the experience of student athletes.
Project: An Exploratory Analysis of the Role of Victims’ Families in Capital Juror Decision-Making
Participants: David Karp, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Jarrett Warshaw ’05
Plan: In the Fall of 2003, David Karp and others sponsored a conference on the impact of the death penalty on victims' families. Currently, he is editing a book based on the conference. One chapter is to be co-authored with Jarrett Warshaw '05, examining the role victims and victims' families play in capital jurors' decisions to give death sentences. The Capital Juries Project (CJP) is an NSF-funded sociological study of individuals who served on capital juries. The principal investigator, William Bowers of Northeastern University, has provided to us both qualitative and quantitative data from the CJP.
Project: Evaluating the Vermont Department of Corrections Offender Reentry Program
Participants: David Karp, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Samantha Anderson ’05
Plan: Offender reentry has become a "hot topic" in criminal justice police, practice and research for two reasons. First, because of the explosion in prison sentencing in the last two decades, hundreds of thousands of prisoners are now being released each year. Second, recidivism rates are disastrously high. Two-thirds of all released inmates will be returned to prison within three years. The Department of Justice is now funding reentry initiatives to ease this crisis. The State of Vermont has been funded to create an innovative reentry program. Our task is to evaluate it.
Project: Trends in the Gender and Racial Composition of Government Work Forces
Participants: Professor Catherine White Berheide and Melissa Arentshorst '01
Plan: Previous research (e.g., Deitch, 1994; Needleman, 1994) has documented the negative economic consequences for women and minorities of declines in public sector employment. We propose to conduct a longitudinal study of changes in the gender, race, and ethnic composition of non-federal government work forces in the 1990s, a time of significant government downsizing. Using data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity commission EEO-4 surveys in 1990 and 1997, we plan to examine changes over time in the gender, race, and ethnicity of employees in all eight EEO-4 job categories within state and local governments.
Project: Community Justice in Vermont
Participants: Assistant Professor David Karp and Ryan Fairley, '01
Plan: This study will examine a new correctional program in Vermont (1998 recipient of the Ford Foundation's Innovations in Government Award). In this "restorative justice" program, citizen boards sentence criminal offenders so that they can make amends to victims and communities harmed by their offenses. The collaborative research project has two components: (1) videotaping board hearings to examine the offender-board member relationship; (2) creating a dataset and analyzing a large sample of board cases to determine the effectiveness of this correctional program.
Project: An Analysis of Men's Roles in Neglectful Families
Participants: Professor Catherine White Berheideand Lani Radack '99
Plan: The goal of this experience is to extend the feminist critique of family violence research to the study of child neglect to explore whether the role men play in the family affects the likelihood of child neglect occurring within it.